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Young students develop a PCM mat to keep dogs cool in hot cars
Even with windows open, dogs left in hot cars are in danger of overheating. Ten budding engineers from Fox Valley Christian Academy in Neenah, Wis., have developed a winning solution: a rubber-and-foam mat lined with biobased phase change material.
The team is one of thousands participating in FIRST LEGO League, an international competition designed to get elementary and middle school students interested in science and technology. This year’s theme, “Animal Allies,” challenged students to bridge the gap between humans and animals through scientific research and robotics design.
The Fox Valley students, ages 8 to 13, began their work in September and decided to find a way to keep dogs cool in hot cars. Their research led them to a variety of PCM options. Because the application involves pets, the students chose to focus on nontoxic material for use in their “LayCool” device.
The final design stacks PCMs with three different transition temperatures atop the rubber mat: Ice in plastic blocks at the base, then two Entropy Solutions formulations – PureTemp 18 and PureTemp 23 – contained in film pouches. The PCM core is surrounded by foam and a fabric cover. The “LayCool” concept includes a temperature-sensing collar that sends a text message to the dog’s owner when heat approaches dangerous levels.
“The team really liked that the PCMs were nontoxic, safe, biodegradable,” said adviser Scott Wenzel, a parent of two team members. “You never know when your dog will try to eat the LayCool. We also loved the fact that the PCMs were encased in a mat, which we were able to cut to size and place in the LayCool.”
Wenzel, a technical leader in formulation science at Kimberly-Clark, described the prototyping process as collaborative: “Ideas were gathered on the best way to layer PCMs to keep cool the longest and try to keep dog comfortable.”
The collaborative effort is paying off. The team won first place in the research category in two competitions, including last month’s sectional tournament, where Fox Valley beat 47 other teams. They earned a trip to the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 26 in Janesville, Wis.
U.S. patent application 20170007861 (applicant Scott Technologies Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.):
“Thermally deformable face seals and respirators including such face seals. The thermally deformable face seal structures comprise composite phase change materials that mold to the face of a user to provide a personalized but one-size-fits-all facial fit having excellent shape retention after use and long term durability. The phase change material is applied onto a base component to cover all or substantially all of the surface area of the base component and adapts to the face of the user to provide a secure, leak-free seal.”
U.S. patent application 20170010023 (applicant Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.):
“Systems and methods for concentrating and storing solar energy are provided. A solar energy receiver for use with the systems and methods may include a container for holding a solar absorption material, such as a phase change material, and a cooled cover disposed above the container for condensing and collecting vaporized phase change material collected along an underside of the cover.”
U.S. patent application 20170010050 (applicant General Electric Co., Schenectady, N.Y.):
“A system comprising: a thermally conductive enclosure bounding an interior cavity, wherein at least a portion of the thermally conductive enclosure comprises a hollow and hermetically sealed structure enclosing a liquid and a wick structure; and a metallic cell wall structure disposed within the interior cavity and in thermal communication with the thermally conductive enclosure, wherein the metallic cell wall structure comprises: a plurality of cells, wherein each cell comprises cell walls defining a cell volume, a cell width less than about 5 millimeters, and a cell wall thickness in a range from about 0.25 millimeter to about 1 millimeter; and a phase change material disposed within the cells and in thermal communication with the cell walls.”
• Swiss researchers say they have developed a system that can capture heat during summer and then later use it during winter. The system uses concentrated sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as the thermal storage medium and a collection of readily available components to capture, convert and release heat energy on demand. “The stored heat can also be transported elsewhere in the form of concentrated sodium hydroxide solution, which makes it flexible to use,” said Benjamin Fumey of the Empa research institute.
• The market research firm Technavio has identified the use of phase change material as a trend in the development of battery thermal management systems for electric vehicles.
• Sure Chill‘s long-term passive cooling device, designed to maintain vaccines in a temperature range of 2° to 8°C for 10 days or more without the need for grid-based electricity, received high marks in a PATH field test in Senegal.
• Submissions are now being accepted for the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize. The international competition is open to Ph.D. students or recent graduates conducting innovative research in synthetic chemistry. Forty-five finalists will be selected based on originality of research, rigor of methodology, quality of published work and supervisor’s letter of recommendation. The finalists will present their research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium. Three winners will then be selected and receive $2,000. The application deadline is March 13.
• Thanks to a slowdown in China and Japan, new investment in clean energy fell to $287.5 billion worldwide in 2016, down 18 percent from 2015’s record high, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports.
• An increased preference for biobased chemicals and other environmentally friendly alternatives will significantly affect the growth prospects of the global petrochemicals market in the next few years, Transparency Market Research reports.
• New from QYResearch: “China Inorganic Phase Change Materials Market Research Report 2017“
• Six energy storage startups made speed pitches at last month’s Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Greentech Media takes a look at three of the pitches, including one made by Axiom Exergy co-founder Amrit Robbins. Axiom’s PCM-powered “refrigeration battery” is designed to cut energy costs at supermarkets. “They are scrambling to reduce costs by just a few basis points — and energy is a huge opportunity,” Robbins said. “Saving $30,000 on a utility bill is the same as selling an additional $1.5 million of groceries.”
• Peli BioThermal has introduced its new CoolPall Vertos Advance, a single-use, passive bulk freight shipper that incorporates phase change materials and vacuum insulation panels.
• Scientists in the United Kingdom are developing a way to turn pinene, a paper industry waste product, into plastic. “We’re not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into something useful,” Helena Quilter, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bath‘s Center for Sustainable Chemical Technologies.
• Researchers at MIT have created three-dimensional samples of graphene that are up to 10 times stronger than steel, with just 5 percent of the density.
• Sonoco ThermoSafe will offer its daylong master class on temperature assurance packaging on Feb. 2 at the Temperature Controlled Logistics conference in London. Sonoco, Peli BioThermal, CrodaTherm, Pluss Advanced Technologies, Ecocool and Cryopack will be among the exhibitors at the conference.
• Rehau Akademie is offering a free webinar (in German) on Building Information Modeling on Jan. 26.
• Symbol Mattress will launch its new climate-controlled SleepFresh line at the Las Vegas Market later this month. The mattresses use various combinations of gel foams, gel memory foams, phase-change gel latex and ventilated foams, along with the addition of graphite-infused foams. A climate control system in the foundation has the capacity to heat, ventilate and cool.
• U.K.-based Dulas Ltd. is delivering more than 300 of its VC150SDD solar refrigerators to Nigeria. The refrigerators use a paraffin-based phase change material to keep vaccines in a safe temperature range.
• In an interview with Business Quarter, Sunamp founder Andrew Bissell talks about how partnering with the University of Edinburgh helped his company overcome challenges associated with phase change materials.
For our full list of recent academic research, see puretemp.com/academic. Here are highlights from the past week:From Energy and Buildings:
• Cooling Vest with Optimized PCM Arrangement Targeting Torso Sensitive Areas that Trigger Comfort when Cooled for Improving Human Comfort in Hot Conditions
From Applied Energy:
• Thermal and morphological studies on novel PCM microcapsules containing n-hexadecane as the core in a flexible shell
• A functional form-stable phase change composite with high efficiency electro-to-thermal energy conversion
• Experimental and numerical investigation of a tube-in-tank latent thermal energy storage unit using composite PCM
From Solar Energy:
• Shape-stabilized poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-cellulose acetate blend preparation with superior PEG loading via microwave-assisted blending
• Observational study of modified solar still coupled with oil serpentine loop from cylindrical parabolic concentrator and phase changing material under basin
• Storing energy for cooling demand management in tropical climates: a techno-economic comparison between different energy storage technologies
From Thermochimica Acta:
• Thermal stability of Na2CO3-Li2CO3 as a high temperature phase change material for thermal energy storage
From Applied Clay Science:
• Stearic acid modified montmorillonite as emerging microcapsules for thermal energy storage
From Resource-Efficient Technologies:
• Development of sunlight-driven eutectic phase change material nanocomposite for applications in solar water heating
Membership in a LinkedIn group devoted to the discussion of phase change material and thermal energy storage topped 1,000 this week. You are invited to join the group and connect with PCM and TES experts from around the world. New members include Mark Van Thof, business development manager at Newtex, Rochester, N.Y.; Margaret Stava, facilities equipment manufacturers rep, PSC Biotech, Los Alamitos, Calif.; Staci Farmer, strategic marketing executive at Microtek Laboratories and American Thermal Instruments, Cincinnati, Ohio; Stefan Braun at SmartCAE, Munich, Germany; and Nigel Gammon, Adelaide, Australia. Nigel writes:
“I am the corporate advisory consultant for a new Australian energy storage company, 1414 Degrees. We recently changed our name from Latent Heat Storage to the new name. Our marketing advisors came up with the new name to reflect our use of silicon and its 1414 degrees melting point. We are currently doing a round A capital raise prior to going for an IPO in 1st half of 2017 on the Australian Stock Exchange. The AU$2 million will be used for the materials needed to build a commercial demonstrator at a local horticulture business which requires both power and heating and will be 10 MWh coupled with a wind turbine and take-off from the grid at low cost times. The funds will also be used to prepare the prospectus. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you want to know more about the company or visit the website 1414degrees.com.au.”